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Monday, 7 November 2016

Sustainable intensification of agriculture: an oxymoron >>> revisited

What do we mean by 'sustainable farming'?
Futures Forum: How do we grow from here? Towards sustainable food production

A couple of years ago, this blog looked at a particular quandary:
Futures Forum: Sustainable intensification of agriculture: an oxymoron?

It's in the news again:
Sustainable intensification of agriculture for human prosperity and global sustainability | SpringerLink
2435_Sustainable_intensification.pdf

We need to feed more people on less land without destroying the planet even further:

Sustainable Intensification

The goal of sustainable intensification is to increase food production from existing farmland while minimising pressure on the environment. It is a response to the challenges of increasing demand for food from a growing global population, in a world where land, water, energy and other inputs are in short supply, overexploited and used unsustainably. Any efforts to ‘intensify’ food production must be matched by a concerted focus on making it ‘sustainable.’ Failing to do so will undermine our capacity to continue producing food in the future.

Sustainable Intensification | Future of Food

Transforming Agriculture From Threat To Solution For Environmental Challenges

Sara Scherr

The past year has seen a remarkable evolution of the discourse on agricultural development around the world.

From the sharp focus on increasing production and yields that dominated after the 2008 food price crisis, the narrative expanded after Rio+20 to ‘sustainable intensification’—how these yields could be achieved without undue environmental cost. Now discussions are moving—in a still fragmented way–towards a vision of sustainable agriculture systems and landscapes that provide both secure food supplies and the ecosystem services and climate resilience needed for sustainable development in agriculture and more broadly.


Emerging Vision of Agriculture as Solution

Thus our long-term goal must be a more ambitious re-shaping of the relationship between farming and ecosystems:

> From a leading source of greenhouse gases, to one of the most important carbon sinks;
> From a leading threat to biodiversity, to a key pillar of our biodiversity conservation strategy;
> From a leading consumer and polluter of water, to a key contributor to healthy watersheds and reliable clean water supplies;
> From a leading consumer of fossil fuels, to a producer of renewable energy.


Transforming Agriculture From Threat To Solution For Environmental Challenges - Ecosystem Marketplace

Forestry is certainly a key area:
Can we feed the world without cutting forests? It can be done, says U.N. | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific
United Nations News Centre - New UN report links farming, forestry and improved food security

But the holy grail is 'uncoupling' 'growth' from 'sustainability':

How do we uncouple global development from resource use?


The world is using its natural resources at an ever-increasing rate. Worldwide, annual extraction of primary materials – biomass, fossil fuels, metal ores and minerals – tripled between 1970 and 2010. People in the richest countries now consume up to ten times more resources than those in the poorest nations.

Clearly, if the developing world is to enjoy a similar standard of living to those in the developed world, this cannot continue. We need to break the link between global economic development and primary resource consumption.

Over the past few days, nations have been meeting in New York to discuss the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which aim to “promote prosperity while protecting the planet”.


How do we uncouple global development from resource use?
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